Doubts has risen about the actual number of applicants for the one-way mission to Mars planned by “Mars One”. This organization claims it is slightly more than 200,000, while critiques say it is just 2,761. To be honest I do not know how much people did apply for this mission. Nevertheless, the fact is that there is no independent verification for this number and hence skepticism is justified.
This is what “Mars One” CEO Bas Lansdorp says in a press release:
The two things are not related at all and to say that they are is simply a lie. The article also states that there were only 2,700 applications for Mars One which is not true. We offered the reporter, the first journalist ever, access to our list of 200,000 applications but she was not interested in that. It seems that she is more interested in writing a sensational article about Mars One than in the truth.
“Ah, no. I’m not interested in sharing that information with you.” (Lansdorp speaking)
He [Lansdorp, ed.] emails later, with an invitation to come at my own expense to Mars One’s office in the Netherlands and see the list in person, though cameras will not be allowed. “I will need to read your article before publication and reserve the right to deny you access to the list if I don’t like what you wrote.”
I tell him that of course that won’t be possible.
So at first Mr Lansdorp was not willing to share any information regarding the number of applicants to Ms Keep, and later only under the condition of complete censorship. Which is, of course, unacceptable for any self-respecting journalist and hence Ms Keep rightly declined Lansdorp’s “offer”.
The assertion made by Lansdorp that Ms Keep is motivating by writing a “sensational” article is very, very cheap. In fact Ms Keep is one of the very few journalists who ask critical questions about “Mars One”, while most media outlets are simply reproducing “Mars One” propaganda as fact. Also Ms Keep used audi alteram partem in her article, an important principle in journalism, as she gave Lansdorp & Co the opportunity to give their side of the story.
We have reason to trust Ms Keep more than Mr Lansdorp. After all the stakes are the highest for the latter and has the most to lose from bad publicity, while the former has little or nothing to gain from publishing about “Mars One” either way. Mr Lansdorp has a clear interest in that people are convinced his project is not a scam, regardless whether it is a scam.
Criticism is not something Mr Lansdorp takes very well. Recently we had the MIT report that showed that the “Mars One” plan was heavily flawed. This study was conducted by PhD students, while Lansdorp stated it were mere “undergrad” students and further he stated they used “bad” assumptions, without going into detail why their assumption were wrong.
We can see a pattern of shooting the messenger every time Lansdorp is confronted with criticism. It does not help “Mars One” to improve its credibility, which is already low. On the contrary this behaviour will reinforce the idea that this project is indeed a scam and some who had given the benefit of the doubt will withdrawn it.
This will be my last post on “Mars One” in a long time.